“The Jazz Ambassadors” tells the story of when the U.S. State Department asked jazz icons to travel the world as cultural ambassadors during the Cold War. Their mission was at the intersection of race, civil rights and public diplomacy.
On September 30, 1967, the 2nd Quaker City Jazz Festival became the first event hosted by the Spectrum.
The two-day festival was produced by Herb Spivak, co-owner of the legendary Showboat. According to Joe McAllister:
Spivak went to Ed Snider and company (the Flyers were still in their infancy and the Sixers played at the Convention Center) and said he’d like to book a two-day jazz concert. Initially rebuffed because the Snider group didn’t believe a jazz bill would sell. Spivak replied, “That’s my problem.”
Spivak booked 10 groups a day and once again sold out the concert in two days. Dizzy Gillespie opened up the Spectrum with “God Bless America” followed by performances by Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan and Flip Wilson among others.
The lineup also included Cannonball Adderley, Astrud Gilberto, Groove Holmes and Arthur Prysock.
The Spectrum formally closed on October 31, 2009. Demolition was completed in May 2011.